Non-invasive testing for markers of liver fibrosis
A healthy liver is important for a healthy life. Damage to the liver can result from various lifestyle factors including alcohol and a fatty diet, but this damage may go unseen for many years, with no symptoms of liver disease.
Simple blood tests may give information on the cause and extent of any liver problems. Although a liver biopsy can provide important further information, it is an invasive test, and recent advances provide alternatives. Non-invasive tests, including a Fibroscan®, a special type of ultrasound, and specialist blood tests, such as the FibroTest®, can be used to find out more about the cause and extent of any liver damage before you start to become ill. This then allows treatment approaches to be put in place to reduce or reverse any damage caused.
What does an ultrasound scan of the liver show?
An ultrasound scan shows whether you have a fatty liver; a liver that is fatty appears brighter than normal. Usually we determine this by comparing the brightness of the liver with that of the kidneys, which do not develop fatty changes. If the liver is brighter than the kidneys, this is a good indication that you have started to accumulate fat deposits in your liver tissue, which needs to be managed. It may also provide information on the extent of fibrosis (scarring) in the liver, or other abnormalities such as cysts.
What is a FibroTest®?
This is a patented test that measures six markers in the serum. The scores of each marker are combined to give an overall indication of whether you have any damage to your liver. It involves taking a sample of blood from the vein in your arm, which is then sent off to our laboratory facilities and we receive the results back, usually within a few days.
What if I have signs of liver fibrosis?
You will need to discuss your test results with your consultant. You can try to decrease or reverse the changes to your liver by making lifestyle changes (reducing alcohol intake, changing your diet and losing weight) or drug treatment (if the changes are due to hepatitis). You will need continued follow up to monitor your liver health.